At least one goal has been reached

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

The half-full view is that Jason Spezza's on pace to get more than 121 assists this season. From the half-empty angle, he's also on pace to finish with, um, zero goals.

Of course, the puck will start going in for the Senators' No. 1 centre sooner than later. Nonetheless, few would have guessed he'd still have a goose egg under "G" on the stats sheet seven games into the schedule, Spezza included.

"I was going to try and be the only guy to lead the league (in scoring) without a goal," he said, laughing off the imbalance in his point production.

To do that, he'll probably need to take a solid run at Wayne Gretzky's record for most helpers (163) in a season.

Going into last night's games, Spezza led the NHL in assists with 11 and sat second in scoring, behind Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, who's had five goals as part of his 13 points.

Spezza was the only player in the league's top 44 scorers that has yet to light the lamp.

Also baffling to Spezza is the fact he's 11th in shots, with 24. Last season, he had the league's second-best shooting percentage behind Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal, scoring 34 times on just 162 offerings for a 21% connection rate.

"Going in (to the season) I said I was going to shoot the puck a little more to score a little more, but it doesn't seem to be working," said Spezza, who has aided linemates Dany Heatley to a league-high six goals and Daniel Alfredsson to five.

"I can't remember the last time I shot this much, especially in the last few games. I don't imagine it will take me too much longer, but you never know."

PIPE DREAMS

Coach John Paddock said he'll announce his starting goalie today for tomorrow's game against the Habs, but not before shaking his head at the persistence of the local media.

"You guys keep talking about it so much and I'll end up being like Maurice," Paddock said when asked about the plans yesterday, referring to Leafs coach Paul Maurice and his early-season refusal to leak such news before game time.

"Usually (for a Thursday game) we decide Wednesday morning. In the American league we always used to decide the night before, at night, because there wasn't much press. So I don't know if I have to tell them (this morning) so you guys know, or if I can just wait until (tomorrow) night. You might (know today). And maybe we might have to have a scrum at 10 p.m. (tonight)."

The guess from this corner is he'll go with Ray Emery against Montreal then use Martin Gerber in Saturday's home game versus the Florida Panthers. All things being equal after that, and Emery will again be established as the team's No. 1 goalie.

THIS AND THAT

Perhaps wary of a phone call from Mrs. Foligno, Paddock seemed to choose his words carefully when asked about the play of her son, who has no points, four PIMs, six shots on goal and a minus-2 rating while playing an average of 10:02 through the first seven. "I think Nick's been fine," said Paddock. "A little bit of inexperience has showed at times. His tempo and pace is pretty good ... he just needs to react, and finish quicker. I think the best way to do that is play, and play at this level, and practise with these guys. And so to date, I don't think we're looking at numbers, but overall play. He's been getting 10-12 minutes of ice time a game and I think that's good. We've got about five or six forwards that don't fall into that category, and the rest do. He's been fine." Said Nick: "I think I've done the things they've asked, but there are things I just need to keep simple. Play my game, get it out of the zone and in the zone and forecheck hard. If I do those things, hopefully I'll stick around." As for the possible addition of veteran Randy Robitaille today, Foligno admits he has done some number crunching when it comes to the roster. "It's kind of a motivation to try and stick on the team," he said ... Alfredsson and C Antoine Vermette missed practice yesterday to rest some minor wounds. Back after taking (Monday) off were LW Chris Kelly, C Mike Fisher and D Wade Redden.


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